Some Partners Balk At Print-Per-Page Push

The offering combines hardware, supplies, some assessment and services into a contract that calls for monthly payments by the end user, and it is sold through HP's solution providers.

“They can make up to 5 percent on the entire contract,” Blackmer said. “It&'s designed to compete with the click-charge model that a lot of copier companies use.”

>> The offering combines hardware, supplies, some assessment and services into a contract with monthly end-user payments.

When HP, Palo Alto, Calif., explained the offering to solution providers several weeks ago, it sparked a mixed reaction.

One partner, who did not want to be identified, called the proposed HP terms “comical.” HP, he said, wanted partners to open the doors to top midmarket clients and sell the HP print-per-page model. The partner estimated such solutions, which combine auditing and printer consolidation, could carry as much as 30 percent margins, making the 5 percent payments to solution providers unattractive, the partner said.

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“You are turning over your customers to them,” said the partner. “This is truly one of the last unaudited costs in IT. HP understands the printer marketplace, but they don&'t understand how to get there with partners. They want to make all the money.”

Blackmer and the partner both acknowledged the program is tailored toward smaller solution providers that can&'t or may not want to invest in their own infrastructure and training to provide such a managed services offering.

“For a lot of them, to be able to do this on their own, they would have to add back-office service capabilities and infrastructure,” Blackmer said. “This gives them a way to have a different conversation with the customer” without having to make that investment.

For higher-end enterprise solution providers, HP last year launched a channel program, Solutions VIP, offering some of its higher-touch assessment and consulting tools.

Meanwhile, the HP cost-per-use and price-per-page strategy comes as printing rivals also move forward with similar models.

Ikon, a Malvern, Pa.-based imaging solution provider, has a fleet of several hundred professional service associates who perform consulting and assessment services. Oki Data, Mount Laurel, N.J., maintains a managed services program that the company resells via its solution provider channel. Earlier this year, Xerox, Stamford, Conn., said that it was making a document assessment tool available to its solution provider partners in an effort to extend the vendor&'s document and workflow consulting business. And Lexmark, Lexington, Ky., took the wraps off a managed services program that it is bringing to market with the channel.